Maryland schools and snow days: what is left?

With closures stemming from Wednesday’s snowfall, some Baltimore-area school systems have used up all their allotted snow days for the 2017-2018 school year.

School district officials now must decide which days off to take back from remaining vacation days — at the same time families are preparing to travel for spring break.

Baltimore City is among those scrambling to figure out which days to reclaim for instruction after the state school board voted Tuesday against giving the city a waiver for the mandated 180-day school year. Some board members chastised the city for not planning ahead and building fewer vacation days into its calendar.

While Baltimore hasn’t seen any major snowstorms this winter, schools have closed for a nor’easter, frigid cold, ice and several inches of snow. Those weather events have forced most area school systems to add days back to ensure they meet the state’s 180-day academic requirement.

Across the state, some districts have already given up vacation days to meet 180-day target and also comply with Gov. Larry Hogan's mandate that school must start after Labor Day and end by June 15.

“The vast majority of Marylanders support the governor's return to a common sense calendar by starting school after Labor Day,” said his spokeswoman, Amelia Chasse, in a statement.

She said the districts could have found flexibility in their calendars by eliminating days off for teacher union events and parent-teacher conferences.

The governor has no role in the waiver process, she noted. Such decisions fall solely to the state school board.

HARFORD COUNTY

Harford County used its sixth snow day on Wednesday, and the last day of school is set to be June 15 as a result. If schools close another day for weather, the district will shorten spring break. Harford PTA President Sandra Monaco said parents are unhappy about that possibility — many families have already planned vacations or college visits.

“If we start taking a day away from spring break, I do not expect there to be a high attendance rate,” Monaco said.

ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY

The Anne Arundel school system has used the three days built into its calendar for closures due to inclement weather. Late Wednesday officials said they would open two hours late on Thursday; but if school has to be canceled again for another weather event, officials said they would seek permission from the state to open schools on April 2, the Monday after Easter.

BALTIMORE COUNTY

Baltimore County decided to close schools Thursday in the aftermath of the storm. The system had already used its five built-in days, and officials have not yet decided how to make up the additional time off.

“We’re going to wait to see what happens the rest of the week,” said Mychael Dickerson, chief of staff to interim Superintendent Verletta White.

CARROLL COUNTY

Carroll County used its sixth snow day Wednesday — the final inclement weather day built into the calendar.

The system announced late in the day that it would close Thursday as well — officials said that if one more day is needed, it would put the 180th day for students on Monday, June 18 — a circumstance that would trigger the county’s request for a waiver from the Maryland State Department of Education.

HOWARD COUNTY

In Howard County, school officials already said they would petition the Maryland State Department of Education for a waiver after closing for its sixth snow day of the year on Wednesday. The calendar designated just five make-up days for inclement weather.

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